Shoestory: Penny Loafers

The history of the loafer began in Norway as a moccasin-type slipper worn by farmers.  They were exported throughout Europe and it wasn’t long before a couple of American companies began manufacturing them.  The Spaulding family began making this style of shoe and called them ‘loafers’ after seeing images of these Norwegian farmers in a cattle loafing area.  The term remains in use today in reference to many slip-on shoes.

In 1934 G.H. Bass started making loafers called Weejuns (sounding like Nor’wegians’), the difference being a band of leather with a diamond cutout across the saddle.  Gaining popularity with prepsters in the 1950’s, a dime (the price of a phone call), was inserted into the cutout.  Eventually, this gave way to a shiny penny and the name Penny Loafers caught on.

Leave it to Gucci to reinvent the penny loafer with a metal horse-bit across the front strap in the late 1960’s – which is still widely copied.  Other modifications to the loafer through the 1980’s and on have included tassels, and a more casual form with a tie string that some call a ‘deck or boat shoe’.

There you have it!  See the previous post to check out the loafers I have in stock – G.H. Bass ones too!

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